Notes – Short Story Elements Heather Sanders 8 th Grade English Fall Semester 2009
What Makes a Good Short Story? <ul><li>A Good Short Story: </li></ul><ul><li>Can usually be read in one sitting </li></ul><ul><li>Has one or two well-developed characters </li></ul><ul><li>Tries to leave behind a single impression or effect </li></ul><ul><li>Has a problem/conflict which is developed as the story progresses </li></ul><ul><li>Has a recognizable solution to the conflict </li></ul>
Elements of a Short Story <ul><li>Setting </li></ul><ul><li>Plot </li></ul><ul><li>Character </li></ul><ul><li>Conflict </li></ul><ul><li>Point of View </li></ul><ul><li>Theme </li></ul>
What is Conflict ? All stories are built on CONFLICT. It provides the central source of tension and drama that make stories interesting to read. Types of Conflict: Man vs. Man Man vs. Society Man vs. Nature Man vs. Self Man vs. Fate Man vs. Technology
Man vs. Man – involves conflicts between people – such as family conflict, trouble with a buddy, difficulties in romance, etc. Man vs. Society – involves conflict between an individual and larger groups – such as the outsider in a strange culture, a poor character’s struggle to “make it” in the business world, etc. Man vs. Nature – involves conflict between and individual and the natural world – such as fighting a powerful hurricane, surviving a plane crash in the desert, etc. Man vs. Self – involves characters’ psychological conflicts with themselves – such as overcoming a drug habit or alcoholism, grieving over the loss of a loved one, etc. Man vs. Fate – involves conflict with what seems to be an uncontrollable problem – such as destiny. Man vs. Technology – involves a conflict with the forces of man-made technology – such as a robot.
Conflict, Continued: EXTERNAL CONFLICT: A struggle between a character and an outside force. Which types of CONFLICT are EXTERNAL?. INTERNAL CONFLICT: A struggle that takes place in a character’s mind. Which types of CONFLICT are INTERNAL?
What is Plot ? <ul><li>The sequence of events, or basically </li></ul><ul><li>what happens in a story. </li></ul>
What is Setting? The SETTING of a story serves different functions in the action and the emotional effect it has on the reader. In some stories, the setting might almost be considered a “character” itself! Setting works in many important ways in the short story: Provides a backdrop for the action (mood). Establishes atmosphere. Shapes character and action. Reflects character psychology.
How Do Authors Create Setting? <ul><li>Details </li></ul><ul><li>By building their description of setting with realistic details, authors make their story seem more believable – such as using actual street names when setting a story in a real city, or choosing authentic details to depict a setting set in a foreign country. </li></ul><ul><li>Sense Images </li></ul><ul><li>By describing settings in images that appeal to the reader’s senses, the author creates a vivid atmosphere that readers can associate with settings in their own experiences – such as the smell of bread baking in a farmhouse kitchen, the feel of swimming in cool lake water, or the sound of rain falling on a tin roof. </li></ul>
What is Character? <ul><li>CHARACTER is perhaps the most important of all elements of the short story. Almost invariably, it is the people in stories that interest us most. </li></ul>
UNDERSTANDING CHARACTER Characters are defined by the qualities that make them think, feel, and act in certain ways. To understand each character completely, try looking at him/her from different angles: VALUES What people, places, or things are most important in the character’s life? What does he/she value most? FEELINGS What emotions does the character feel strongly? (Anger? Fear? Love? Hate?...) GOALS What are the character’s greatest hopes? What is he or she working to accomplish? PROBLEMS What other characters of circumstances are keeping the character from achieving his or her goals?
TECHNIQUES OF CHARACTERIZATION DIRECT CHARACTERIZATION: The author TELLS the reader information about the characters directly. INDIRECT CHARACTERIZATION: The author SHOWS the character in action and lets the readers make their own interpretations. AUTHOR’S CHARACTERIZATION TOOLS: The character’s name Physical appearance Character’s dress Occupation Home & surroundings Habits & Actions What other characters say or think about him/her
Types of Character <ul><li>Protagonist – the main character , typically the “good guy” (but not always) </li></ul><ul><li>Antagonist – the character or force in conflict </li></ul>
What is Point of View? <ul><li>The perspective from which a story is told. Ask yourself, “Who is telling the story?” </li></ul><ul><li>There are several different POINTS OF VIEW: </li></ul>
Limited Points of View <ul><li>FIRST PERSON: the character narrates his/her own experiences directly. </li></ul><ul><li>THIRD PERSON: the author tells the story from the viewpoint of JUST one character. </li></ul>
OMNICSCIENT POINT OF VIEW <ul><li>This point of view is called “Third Person Omniscient” if the author is OUTSIDE the story and presents the thoughts of ALL the characters involved as an OBJECTIVE OBSERVER. </li></ul><ul><li>Ex: When Jane saw Bill jogging past her house, her heart skipped a beat. When Bill saw Jane in the hallway at school, he fought hard to catch his breath. No doubt about it – it was love! </li></ul>
The Narrator vs. The Author If the NARRATOR is telling the story, readers must be careful not to confuse the narrator’s attitude with the author’s. Often authors create a character to act as a narrator who expresses far different attitudes than those they hold for themselves. THE UNRELIABLE NARRATOR: Sometimes authors create a narrator who gives the reader clues that he or she is not to be trusted as a reliable source of information. It then becomes the reader’s job to decide the “real truth” beneath the unreliable narrator’s lies or distortions.
What is Theme? <ul><li>Theme is a novel/short story/poem’s central message or insight into life; </li></ul><ul><li>a “universal truth.” </li></ul><ul><li>It is NOT “What is the story about.” It is what the work MEANS . </li></ul>
Some Traditional Story Themes <ul><li>Have you encountered any of these common theme patterns in your reading? </li></ul><ul><li>The struggle between good and evil </li></ul><ul><li>The differences between nature and civilized society </li></ul><ul><li>The conflict between the individual and the community </li></ul><ul><li>The differences between country and city life </li></ul><ul><li>The conflict between human free will and fate </li></ul>
RECOGNIZING THEME: SOME POINTERS <ul><li>When looking for theme, consider some of these possible clues: </li></ul><ul><li>The title of the story </li></ul><ul><li>Important images or symbols in the story </li></ul><ul><li>General observations made by the author, narrator, or characters in the story </li></ul><ul><li>Any “moral” suggested by the outcome of the conflict </li></ul>
Flashback & Foreshadowing <ul><li>Flashback is an interruption in the present action of a story to tell about something that happened in the past—a jump back in time. </li></ul><ul><li>Foreshadowing is when the author gives clues or hints about what might happen later on in a story. </li></ul>
What is Figurative Language? <ul><li>Figurative language is a tool that an author uses to help the reader visualize what is happening in a story or poem. Figurative language is meant to be interpreted imaginatively , not literally . </li></ul>
Types of Figurative Language <ul><li>Simile - a figure of speech that compares two dissimilar things by using the key words “like” or “as” </li></ul><ul><li>Metaphor - a figure of speech that compares two unlike things describing one as if it were the other. *Does not use “like” or “as” </li></ul><ul><li>Personification - a figure of speech in which human qualities are given to a nonhuman subject </li></ul>
Figurative Language, Cont. <ul><li>Hyperbole - an exaggerated statement or overstatement. It’s a figure of speech that is not to be taken literally. </li></ul><ul><li>I diom - Idioms are words, phrases, or expressions that cannot be taken literally. </li></ul><ul><li>Examples – </li></ul><ul><li>I am exhausted; I have been burning the candle at both ends lately. </li></ul><ul><li>I went over my paper with a fine-toothed comb and couldn’t find a single spelling error. </li></ul><ul><li>Ben Franklin kicked the bucket a long time ago . </li></ul>
Symbolism <ul><li>Symbols are animals, elements, things, places, or colors, writers use to represent other things. </li></ul><ul><li>What might these things symbolize? </li></ul>Fox Snake Lamb Red Black Purple Spring Winter Sunset Thunderstorm
Style, Tone, & Mood <ul><li>STYLE is the way an author uses words, phrases, sentences, language, and conventions. It is the author’s unique way of expressing his/her ideas. Two authors’ styles can be as different as their speaking voices or signatures. </li></ul><ul><li>Example: Edward Bloor vs. Ray Bradbury </li></ul><ul><li>J.K. Rowling vs. Stephen King </li></ul>
Style, Tone & Mood <ul><li>TONE is the author’s attitude/feelings about the subject of his/her writing. </li></ul><ul><li>It is the way a writer uses words (connotation), creates images, chooses details, uses language, and structures sentences to present a certain attitude or feeling to the reader about his/her writing topic. </li></ul><ul><li>Tone can be positive , negative , or neutral . </li></ul>
Style, Tone, & Mood Mood is the overall feeling – light, happy, dark or mysterious, for example – created by an author’s words. Mood is the way the a text makes the READER feel.
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